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Why Fans Are Now More Into Free-Agent Negotiations Than Games

At halftime of game two of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in May, ESPN analyst Bill Simmons voiced a strange theory about why LeBron James, the best player in the NBA, had played poorly in the first half. LeBron’s Heat were down 1-0 in the series to the Pacers, and even though Miami led at halftime, LeBron had struggled, looking lifeless and distracted. Simmons, who, like the rest of us, had been watching the NBA draft lottery before the game (in which LeBron’s former team, Cleveland, had secured the No. 1 pick), had a guess as to why.

“LeBron came out kind of strange,” Simmons said. “I was almost wondering, Did someone tell him Cleveland won the lottery? Was he thinking about that?

Now, it is probably worth pointing out that this makes no sense. LeBron James was going for his third consecutive NBA title, his team was behind in a critical series, and he had to carry aging, injured teammates on his back. Of all the things on his mind at that moment, a Ping-Pong ball coming up Cleveland was rather far behind I am thirsty from all this running around and jumping (if anyone had even told him in the first place). The notion that something so profoundly beside the point would somehow affect James’s game—the thing he is better at than anything else in the world—was absurd. If LeBron James really were distracted by such silliness, he would spend most of his time on the court tripping over his own feet.

And yet: I got what Simmons was saying. Because I had been thinking the same thing. »

Boko Haram Kidnaps the Vice–Prime Minister of Cameroon’s Wife

Boko Haram, the brutal militant group best known for abducting around 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April, has kidnapped the wife of Cameroonian Vice–Prime Minister Amadou Ali, as well as her maid, the BBC reports. (Ali himself managed to escape.) The attack took place at the Ali home in the north Cameroon town of Kolofata, which is near the country's border with Nigeria. Reuters reports that Boko Haram also kidnapped a local religious leader, Seini Boukar Lamine, and five members of his family in Kolofata. Another three people there were reportedly killed.


Drunk Man Accidentally Runs Over Friend Who Refused a Ride Home

According to the Suffolk County police, 23-year-old Lawrence Pagano accidentally ran over 21-year-old Krystal Berkowitz at around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, shortly after she refused to let him drive her home because she thought he was drunk. WABC reports that Berkowitz had gotten out of Pagano's 2006 Jeep Liberty and was walking down Setauket, Long Island's Nesconset Highway when Pagano pulled up to her in an attempt to convince her to get back in the car. He ended up hitting her with the vehicle instead. Emergency responders pronounced Berkowitz dead at the scene, reportedly of a head injury. "I can't even quantify how hard it must have hit him, because he loves the girl," said a friend of the pair, who had once been a couple and remained friendly. So far, Pagano has been charged with driving while intoxicated.

Yet Another Times Square Spider-Man Arrested

It happened again. For the third time in one year, a man in Spider-Man costume has been arrested in Times Square. (This happens with people dressed up as other characters, too, but something about the Spidey suit seems to encourage bad behavior.) The New York Times reports that the trouble started on Saturday afternoon at around 2 p.m., after a man and a woman offered Spider-Man — a.k.a. Junior Bishop — just one dollar for the privilege of taking a photo with him near Broadway and 42nd Street.

This Spider-Man accepts "fives, tens, or 20s only." »

The New York Times Endorses Legal Weed

Sorry, Maureen Dowd: The Paper of Record has come out in favor of legal weed (for people who are at least 21 years old). In Sunday Review piece called "Repeal Prohibition, Again," the New York Times editorial board called for the repeal of the federal marijuana ban, comparing the current situation to the 13 years the United States government spent fruitlessly trying to get people to stop drinking.


NYPD Officer Loses Badge and Gun After Stomping on a Man’s Head

Earlier this week, NYPD chief Bill Bratton said that Eric Garner's death might lead him to order that all New York City cops receive new training on the use of force. A new video of the violent arrest of a man in Bed-Stuy shows that changes can't come soon enough. The footage, which was recorded on Tuesday evening, shows several officers taking 32-year-old Jahmiel Cuffee down on a sidewalk after catching him with a small amount of weed. The police say that Cuffee had provided them with his ID, but resisted when they moved to take him into custody. Whatever happened, nothing seems to justify the part where one cop walks away from the scene and then returns to stomp on Cuffee's head, even though he was already handcuffed and pinned to the ground.


GOP Congressman Just Assumed That Brown-Skinned U.S. Officials Were Representatives of the Indian Government

Florida tea partier Curt Clawson only joined Congress last month, when he was chosen to replace cocaine-addled conservative Trey Radel in a special election, but that's no excuse for the stupid and offensive thing he did at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday. 

"I think your question was to the Indian government." »

BuzzFeed Fires Serial Plagiarist

Benny Johnson — the BuzzFeed writer best known for attempting to use Jurassic Park GIFs to explain the Egyptian revolution and, more recently, for plagiarizing material from Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia, and a whole bunch of other places — has been fired. In a memo sent to his staff (and Intelligencer) late last night, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith (who defended Johnson as "one of the web's deeply original writers" when Gawker published the first plagiarism allegations) explained that he and three other editors spent much of Friday reviewing 500 of Johnson's posts. "We found 40 instances of sentences or phrases copied, word for word, from other sites, many of them inappropriate sources in the first place," Smith wrote. "This pattern is not a minor slip."


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